Shortly after Mark Aubrey arrived at First Nickel Inc.’s Lockerby Mine in 2012 to take on the job of operations manager, he had a big surprise waiting for him: a Ministry of Labour compliance order that highlighted numerous issues such as dust control and road building issues at the nickel and copper mine that needed addressing. That was when Aubrey said he realized a major culture shift was needed at the mine’s management level.
“We fixed the supervisor training,” Aubrey recalled. “That included spending time with our ground control people … every supervisor at one point or another, went through that process. I was happy with what we were able to put in place, the supervising guys, even health and safety guys, our safety people. We took the steps to put guidelines in place to keep us out of trouble with the Ministry of Labour.
“Again, it’s not doing it for the Ministry of Labour, but doing it for ourselves. There were individuals within the management group who didn’t share the same degree, the same importance, of how a worksite should be looked after. We took a leading role. We didn’t rely on someone else to hold our hand, so to speak.”
Aubrey was testifying on the seventh day of the Ontario Court of Justice trial looking into a fall of ground May 6, 2014, that killed Marc Methe, 34, and Norm Bisaillon, 49, who were employed by contractor Taurus Drilling. First Nickel had hired Taurus Drilling for production mining at Lockerby.
While 1370918 Alberta ULC (the new owner of Taurus Drilling) is represented by counsel, First Nickel, which is bankrupt and the mine’s owner, does not and is being tried in absentia.
The Ontario Ministry of Labour laid 13 charges.
The eight charges against First Nickel Inc. included failing to prevent the accumulation or flow of water, failing to ensure an effective ground support system was in place and failing the requirement that a written report be made of all dangerous work conditions.
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